This story is rated Mature for a reason. Absolutely do not continue if you are not of legal age to do so.

- -

Gippal considered himself a patient man. After all, he'd been waiting years for Rikku to grow up and notice him. He'd made a promise to himself – more like a silent promise to her – that he'd give her all the time she needed to get used to him, that he'd wait for her to grow up a little before introducing the idea of them, but lately he was doubting he'd be able even to give her until her eighteenth birthday.

Lately, that little thought had become his mantra, the phrase 'she's not even eighteen' playing in his head whenever she decided to swing by Djose in one of her many and varied sinfully revealing outfits. Every time she came near it felt like he was just seconds away from jumping her. And she seemed to have no idea at all that every little thing she did brought her one step closer to unleashing a demon bent on seduction.

Just now he was trying so hard not to notice that she was flittering about his living room in what looked like a bikini made of dental floss and a skirt that revealed far more than it covered. Like he needed to see all that tanned skin, those long legs, and those slim hips displayed so enticingly. Every time she came near, he got harder than steel and she had no idea.

"Anyway," she was saying, "I think Paine's got a boyfriend. It's funny, because when I told her how jealous I was, you know, since I'm the only one of us girls left without a boyfriend, she said she always thought we were an item." She grinned. "Isn't that funny?"

Hilarious. "So what did you tell her?" He jerked off his boots, flinging them towards the kitchen. He needed to do something with his hands to keep from throttling her. Or sliding his fingers into her hair and bringing her mouth to his like he'd been imagining for the last few hours.

"Oh, you know." She leaned forward to snatch a ginger cookie off the plate and he admired the smooth slope of her stomach. His fingers itched to touch her. "I told her that she shouldn't take you too seriously."

"What'd she say to that?" He knew Paine had at least some inkling of where his affections lay. He'd done enough talking about Rikku back in the Crimson Squad.

"She just gave me one of those looks," she paused to lick the crumbs off her fingertips, and Gippal drew in a sharp breath. She was going to kill him. "You know those looks of hers. And she said something like, 'well, he's of the idea that you belong to him'. How weird is that? Like you could own people. I think I would know if I belonged to anyone." She reached for another cookie.

He'd reached the breaking point. He could feel his control snap, and as though it were a thin string stretched taut, it just exploded. His hand reached out for hers, catching her fingers just before she reached the platter. She drew her hand back from his, confused. Rikku didn't know much about men – Gippal had made sure of that – but she did recognize the look of a predator when she saw one, and she suddenly felt uncomfortably like a helpless little bunny in the presence of Lupine.

For a moment he warred with himself. 'She's still seventeen,' he told himself, 'it's still two weeks until her birthday. Give her time'. But he couldn't. And he knew it. She had to know now. He was so, so tired of fighting it. Besides, she could still have as much time as she needed. He was just no longer inclined to give her space, as well.

"There was never a time when you didn't belong to me," he said softly, slowly. It wouldn't do to panic her. "Just a time when you didn't know that you did."

Her heart leapt into her throat. He started towards her, deftly unfastening the buttons of his shirt. She took a faltering step backwards, more than a little confused.

"You're…you're acting really strange," Rikku said. "Are you feeling okay? I can get you some aspirin. Maybe an icepack?"

"I'm fine," he said. "I think it's time we got this out of the way, don't you?"

"Got what out of the way?" Her voice went high and tinny. "I didn't even know there was anything to get out of the way!"

"You're the only one, then," he laughed softly. "I don't think there's a man alive who doesn't know you're my girl. Or if there is, they learn pretty quick. Careful, there." His warning came just a bit too late, and she tripped over his discarded boots. She stumbled backwards, and he shot forward to grab her arm, righting her. "Okay?"

"Yeah, I guess." She backed a bit away, wanting a little space between them. Unfortunately, for every step she took away, he took one towards her. He was approaching steadily, but was very careful to move slowly so as not to alarm her.

"You don't have to run away, you know," he chided gently. "I'm only going to kiss you."

Her knees trembled alarmingly. He couldn't be serious. She had to distract him, keep talking.

"Okay, so you're saying you've warned everyone in Bikanel off me because somehow you have gotten it into your head that we're an item?"

"Close," he said. Her back hit the wall, and her moment of surprise gave him the opportunity he needed to jump forward, blocking her instinctive escape. "More like everyone in Spira. And, while we are not yet an item, I have confidence that you'll see reason sooner or later."

"Reason?" She gasped, shoving at his chest angrily. He didn't budge. Not one bit. When had that happened? She'd always been able to shove him and make him stumble, if only a little. Had it all been a lie, a little trick designed to make her feel safer around him, in control? Had it all really been in his hands the entire time? Ill at ease, she worried her bottom lip, twisting her fingers.

"Calm down." His voice was warm, mildly amused. "I can hear your heart racing. Don't be afraid of me, honey. You know I'd never hurt you."

She wasn't afraid of Gippal; could never be afraid of him. She was, however, wary of this strange man who looked like him, smelled like him, spoke with his voice, but called her honey, and wanted to kiss her.

"Look, can't we discuss this later?" She bit her lip, striving to keep her voice at its normal pitch. "It's getting late. I should be getting back to Bikanel. I'm gonna miss the ferry."

"I'm not an idiot, Cid's girl." Now he was laughing. She hated being laughed at. "I know you'll never come back. I've put this off for too long, already. It's time we had a good, long talk."

"I don't want to! I don't want anything to change!" She sounded petulant, childish. His mouth twitched up into that cocky grin, and he bent closer, closing the space between them. One of his legs pushed between both of hers, forcing her up the wall, riding his thigh. She couldn't keep her balance, not with her toes off the floor, hating that she had to grab his shoulders to keep from pitching forward against his chest.

"You can't do this," she gasped, backing away from his descending lips. There was only so far she could go, and his lips touched her forehead first, slowly kissing his way down her face. She turned her head to the side, determined to stop him, but he was undeterred. His lips found the sensitive skin behind her ear, and she shivered. His warm breath stirred the hair at the nape of her neck, and his leg moved rhythmically between hers, pushing insistently against her crotch.

"Brother…Brother will kill you." Her voice was a little breathier than she'd like, but she felt the threat came off appropriately.

"He's welcome to try," he said. "Hell, he did try, once, when you were fifteen and he decided he didn't like the way I was looking at you."

She was surprised. "What happened?" She forgot for a moment that she was supposed to be pushing him away, and turned to face him. But he didn't, taking the opportunity to press his lips to hers, just for a moment before she turned her face away again.

"He tried to jump me from behind." He laughed at the memory. "You remember that day he came home telling this big heroic story of the Lupine that he fended off?" She nodded. "There was no Lupine. Just me. He thought he could beat the tar out of me and I ended up taking him, even though he had two years and forty pounds on me. So you see," he finished, nipping at her earlobe, breathing the last words into her ear, "I am not easily discouraged. I've been waiting for you for a long time. I've even spoken with your father."

"You talked with Pops? About me?" She was incredulous.

"Yeah," he said. "Once he figured out that I was not going to be turned away with threats of bodily harm, he said I could have you if I could get you and if I could provide for you."

"I don't need anyone to provide for me." She scowled. He ground his thigh against her, making her gasp, proving once again that although he allowed her to keep her illusions of being in control, he was really calling the shots. Her fingers tightened on his shoulders, and he felt a shudder ripple through her. "You gotta stop that," she gasped.

"Why? Are you getting excited?" He enjoyed teasing her, especially when she was so beautiful in a fit of temper.

"I am not." She rose to the bait wonderfully, tone clipped and irritated.

She hoped he couldn't see her hardened nipples through the fabric of her bikini top.

"Is that so?" His hand slid along her thigh, under the hem of her tiny skirt. She gasped a feeble protest, but he was already slipping his fingers beneath her bikini bottoms, skimming over slick flesh. "Yes," he hissed at her ear, feeling her legs trembling against his invading fingers. "I knew it."

She was clutching his shoulders desperately now, her head resting against the wall, eyes squeezed shut. There was no need to box her in any longer, so he tugged the string securing her top with his free hand, pulling it open, baring her high, firm breasts. He rubbed his thumb over her nipple, watching tiny goosebumps rise on her warm skin.

She couldn't quite contain the little moan that rose in her throat, and he coaxed another out with smooth, delicate strokes and soft kisses. He wanted her to feel cherished, adored, loved. He wanted her to lie awake at night thinking about this. More than anything, he wanted her to want it again and again and again. With him.

She shivered, eyes closing on a little sigh. She wasn't sure how he'd done it, but her body was throbbing and her blood was singing in her veins. It was all she could do to savor each sensation, every little bit of pleasure his skilled hands meted out. Vaguely, she was aware of his lips on her arched throat, her shoulder, and finally on the up-thrust peak of her breast. The suction was hot and moist and hard, and she could feel it all the way down to the pool of heat in her belly.

"Rikku." She wouldn't open her eyes, concentrating on the pressure of his fingers at her breasts, his knee moving between her legs. "Honey, look at me." Her eyes fluttered briefly. He nipped her shoulder. "Kiss me, and I'll let you come," he said.

It sounded like a fair trade to her. She turned her face up to his, and his lips touched hers, gentle and warm. Her mouth yielded to the soft pressure of his, and his tongue stroked hers, exploring. His fingers thrust inside her, mimicking the movements of his tongue in her mouth. Her hips arched against his hand, and his thumb rubbed across her clit. Her nails dug into his shoulders, and he swallowed her little cry. She pulsed around his fingers, thighs squeezing him, eyes shut tightly, entire body tensed. It was like touching the sun. She might've screamed. She almost cried. Either way, she was glad of his leg between hers, supporting her, or she was sure she would have fallen. Awareness came back slowly, and she realized he was speaking.

"…that one day a month ago, remember? You wore that tiny little bikini, and you'll never know how close I was to this. God, I wanted to bend you over the sofa and fuck you until you screamed for me." His words ended on a barely-smothered groan, and his arms tightened around her.

His hips touched hers, and she could feel the hardness of him through his pants. He was still aroused.

"Does it…hurt?" she asked hesitantly, even as little aftershocks of pleasure rippled through her. He took her hand, guiding it down to the front of his pants, stroking her fingers up and down the length of him. His breath hissed out, and his teeth were clenched. He looked like he was in agony.

"I don't wanna hurt you." She tried to tug her hand free.

"It doesn't hurt," he assured her. He let go of her hand, but she kept contact for a few moments.

"God, I love it when you touch me," he whispered. She could hear it in his voice, feel it in the way he nuzzled her shoulder.

"Really?"

"Yeah," laughter rumbled in his throat. "You can touch me anytime you want, honey. I'll let you satisfy your curiosity with me."

Her cheeks burned. "I'm not curious," she insisted.

"Yeah, you are." He was laughing again.

"How would you know?"

"You've still got your hand on me."

She drew it away, embarrassed.

"Hey, don't look like that," he protested. "I just said you could touch me."

"I don't want to, now!" she snapped. He laughed, brushing a careless kiss over her mouth.

"Can you stand on your own, kid?"

"I always could!" She shoved at his shoulders, and he carefully eased her back down to the ground. She shifted around him, frowning. "I'm going back to Bikanel," she announced.

"Okay." He grinned, amused at her antics, satisfied with their relationship for the first time in years. She couldn't react to him the way she had if she didn't feel something for him. "Come back soon, though, or you won't get your birthday present." He tapped her nose fondly as he walked by her on his way to his workshop.

She stared after him for a few seconds, more confused than ever. How could he just up and leave as if they'd been having nothing more than a casual conversation? She was tempted to follow him out to his workshop to throw a wrench at his big, fat head. Finally, seething with temper and frustration, she left for Bikanel.

- -

Rikku really resented Cid's implication that she was hiding out in Bikanel. Because it wasn't true. She wasn't hiding out. She didn't need to hide from Gippal. It was just that she hadn't felt much like leaving lately. Wasn't a girl allowed a little time to herself without being called a coward? And what was the deal with Pops offering her up to whatever guy happened to come along, anyway?

"Hey, kid."

She shrieked in surprise, falling backwards off her bed, totally unprepared to hear Gippal's voice from directly behind her.

"Whoa, spastic much?" He laughed as she pulled herself off the floor. She was relieved to find it wasn't the man himself, just his face in the commsphere across the room.

"How'd you do that? I didn't answer it," she protested, rubbing her aching backside.

"Hacked the network. I figured you wouldn't answer if I gave you a choice. Besides, you love surprises." He grinned, looking entirely too self-satisfied.

"What do you want, anyway?" She grumbled, resisting the urge to readjust her nightshirt, which did not cover nearly enough. She knew he was looking, but she didn't want him to know that she knew he was looking.

"You should come over tonight," he said, easing back in his chair casually. She snorted.

"Thanks, but I'll pass."

"We can make out some more. I'll let you put your hands down my pants." He grinned.

"Tempting," she said sarcastically, "but no." She crossed her arms over her chest, wondering how he could talk about making out so casually?

"Then I'll come to you." His voice had dropped an octave.

"I won't let you in," she countered.

"Remember who taught you how to pick a lock, kid," he advised. "Knocking is nothing more than a formality. Come over tonight. I'll be a good boy, I promise."

"I don't believe you."

"You're getting smarter." His grin widened. "Make sure you wear something a little less revealing than your usual attire, or I won't be held responsible for what happens."

"I'm not coming!"

"Sure you are," he said. "Don't you want your birthday present?"

"I thought you said I wasn't getting one."

"Yeah, well, I'm in a good mood. I might have a date on Saturday." He rested his elbows on his knees, looking just a little too conniving for Rikku's comfort.

"A date?" She asked warily. "With who?"

"Girl called Lynsi. She's from Luca. Nice-looking girl. Wants to take me on this nice romantic dinner date. I said I'd think about it."

"So you're making dates while hitting on me," she sneered. "Classy, Gippal." She was furious, and he was thrilled.

"Jealous?" he asked.

"No!" She backpedaled. "Why should I care who you go out with?"

"You're absolutely right," he agreed. "Why should you care? It's not like we're involved. Although, if you were interested, I might be persuaded to cancel with Lynsi."

"No freaking way," she hissed, cutting off the connection abruptly. A moment later, the commsphere flickered to life again, and his laughter filled the room.

"Would you stop doing that!"

"It's enough that you're angry, honey. I'll tell Lynsi I can't make it."

She made an annoyed sound in the back of her throat, wishing he was there so she could strangle him. "I don't care!"

"Sure you do. See you tonight."

The sphere went black, and she screamed her irritation.

- -

Shortly after midnight, there were four sharp raps on her door. She dragged herself out of bed, wishing a particularly nasty death on the idiot who'd decided to interrupt her sleep. She twisted the lock, yanking the door open angrily.

"Morning, sunshine." Gippal eased through the door, carrying a rather large box. He brushed a kiss across her cheek as he dropped the box on her table. "Didn't anyone ever tell you never to open the door at night? I could've been a Lupine for all you knew."

"A Lupine who knocks. Okay." She yawned. "What're you doing here? I told you I wasn't coming!"

"And I told you I'd come to you if you didn't come to me. It's past midnight, kid." He turned towards her, grinning.

"So?" She stifled another yawn. "All that means is you woke me up."

"It's your birthday, moron!" He ruffled her hair. "You've been eighteen for seven whole minutes already. Wanna see what I got you?"

"I thought I missed my chance," she said. "You know, right about the time you said you were going out with Lynsi, and I said I wasn't coming over."

"What can I say? I'm the forgiving sort. Besides, like I told you, I turned Lynsi down. I like you better than I like her. You've got a nicer butt."

"Don't talk about my butt!"

"But it's so nice." He pressed her down onto the couch, retrieving the box he'd brought with him. "Here, open it."

She allowed herself to be distracted by the gift, lifting off the lid. It was filled with what looked like spare parts – specifically, hover modification parts. She knew what most of them were, speed boosters and assorted things like that, but she couldn't fathom why he'd given them to her.

He dropped down on the couch beside her, arm resting on the back of the couch behind her. "So?" he asked.

"They're great," she said. "But I don't have a hover to add them to."

"Yeah, you do." He leaned back, smiling.

"Gippal," she sighed patiently, "I don't have a hover. Why do you think it takes me so long to get to Djose from Bikanel? I've got to catch a ferry to Luca and then hike up the high road."

"Kid," he said. "You do have a hover." He tossed a small set of silver keys into her lap. "I built it for you."

She looked at the keys in her hand incredulously. "You built a hover for me?"

"Yeah. Took me a couple of months, and I had a hell of a time keeping you from finding out, but I figure you're only eighteen once, you know? It had to be special."

She was going to cry. She never cried. "Thank you." She sniffled.

"Aw, don't cry. I never understood that whole 'crying when you're happy' thing, okay? It makes no sense." He sighed, swiping his fingertips across her cheeks, gently brushing away the few tears that had escaped.

She laughed a little in spite of herself, feeling a little awkward. "Really. Thanks. A lot."

"I had to get you something good, right? You're my best girl." He leaned backwards, linking his arms behind his head. "By the way, I hope you're inviting me to stay the night," he said conversationally, "since I just missed the last ferry back to Luca."

She froze. "What?"

"I rode your hover here," he said. "How d'you think I'll get back to Djose at this time of the morning? Guess I'll just have to stay the night."

"You came here this late on purpose!" she accused. "You knew you would miss the last ferry and I would have to invite you to stay!"

"Can you blame a guy for trying?" He shrugged nonchalantly.

"Yes!"

"You'd turn me out in the cold-"

"This is the desert."

"…after I got you such a fantastic birthday present?"

She hesitated. "You can stay on the couch."

"I'll never fit." He grinned. It was true. He had at least eight inches on her, and she barely fit.

"Then I'll take the couch." She tried to stand up, but he wrapped his fingers around her wrist and tugged her back down.

"In your own house? Cid would kill me."

"Then what would you suggest?" she asked.

"We'll share your bed."

"It's too small," she protested. "It's really not made for two people. I'll take the couch. Really. It's no trouble. Least I can do."

"I'll stay on my side of the bed," he promised, "and I'll behave myself."

She didn't believe him. Of course she didn't. Cid had taught his daughter well. But she knew Gippal, and once he'd set his mind to something, there was no stopping him. He'd said he'd behave. She'd just have to keep him honest. How hard could it be to keep him off of her for one night?